One dead from heavy snowfall and record cold in Japan

One dead from heavy snowfall and record cold in Japan

Snow covered the ancient capital Kyoto

Snow covered the ancient capital Kyoto.

Tourists reveled in wintry scenes across Japan on Wednesday as much of the country was covered in snow in a cold snap that killed at least one person and disrupted travel.

“These temperatures are some of the coldest we’ve seen in a decade,” Takafumi Umeda, an official with the Japan Meteorological Agency, told AFP.

Record lows were recorded in several locations, including an area of ​​southern Kumamoto where the mercury hit -9 degrees Celsius (16 degrees Fahrenheit), the coldest on record there since 1977, when that observing site began tracking.

Top government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said one person had died in the cold snap, while forecasters warned of snow storms, high waves and traffic jams due to icy roads.

Authorities were also investigating whether two other deaths were linked to freezing weather across much of the archipelago, Matsuno told reporters.

Hundreds of flights were canceled due to the blizzard, while delays and cancellations affected both local trains and long-distance Shinkansen services. Vehicles on major highways in various locations were stranded, local media said.

At the seventh-century Zenkoji Temple in the mountainous Nagano region north of Tokyo, an icy calm descended with trees, antiquated lamp posts and the place of worship itself covered in layers of powdery snow.

Popular snow-covered tourist sites in parts of Japan

Snow-covered popular tourist sites in parts of Japan.

Visitors included some who were there to ski but were forced off the slopes by blizzard conditions.

“I came to ski, but the snow was incredibly heavy, so I interrupted my plan and decided to do some sightseeing,” Akiko Sotobori, 30, told AFP.

“The blizzard (at the ski resort) was such that I couldn’t see anything three meters (10 feet) ahead.”

There were picturesque scenes in the tourist-favorite ancient capital Kyoto, where the glittering walls of the famous Golden Pavilion contrasted with the temporary bright white glow of its tiered ceilings.

The country’s Sea of ​​Japan coast bore the brunt of the overnight blizzard, with Tokyo and its surrounding regions spared snow but experiencing unusually low temperatures.

© 2023 AFP

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